Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson
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Pakistan allrounder Shoaib Malik has been given a category A contract by the PCB for the period between July 2015 and June 2016, while offspinner Saeed Ajmal and fast bowler Junaid Khan were demoted to category B.
The significant hike in the list is for ODI captain Azhar Ali, who has been promoted to category A from category C. Fast bowler Umar Gul is a notable omission from the 27-man list issued by the PCB on Saturday.
Malik, who had been denied a contact for many years, made a comeback to the national side in May after a gap of two years, scoring a hundred against Zimbabwe in Lahore.
Ajmal, on the other hand, has been struggling to cement his place in the side after remodeling his bowling action. He was included in category B alongside Sarfraz Ahmed, Wahab Riaz, Yasir Shah, Rahat Ali, Junaid Khan and Asad Shafiq. Mohammad Irfan and Haris Sohail were upgraded from category D to C.
Middle-order batsman Umar Akmal, who has lately been restricted to playing T20s, was demoted from category B to category C by the three-man committee. Some of the notable players to completely miss out on a contract include Khurram Manzoor, Nasir Jamshed, Abdur Rehman, Adnan Akmal, Sohail Khan, Mohammad Talha, Bilawal Bhatti, Sharjeel Khan, Ehsan Adil and Raza Hasan.
The central contracts selection panel comprises of national chief selector Haroon Rasheed, head coach Waqar Younis and Zakir Khan, the director of international cricket operations.
"This bunch is a blend of seasoned players with proven credentials and emerging talent with potential to represent Pakistan across three formats," the PCB said in a statement. "The remunerations - both the monthly retainer as well as match fees - have been increased across the board along with restoring the win bonuses and performance incentives."
The players and the PCB had been negotiating a rise in the monthly retainer with many options, such as ending the performance based contract. The players, however, objected to this. Instead, they agreed to a contract which besides the monthly retainer, gave the players an opportunity to make extra money by scoring a hundred, taking four or more wickets, or having an exceptional series. The players also agreed to continue with the 10% raise offered earlier this year by the PCB.
Category A: Azhar Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Misbah-ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Younis Khan
Category B: Ahmed Shehzad, Asad Shafiq, Junaid Khan, Rahat Ali, Saeed Ajmal, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Wahab Riaz, Yasir Shah
Category C: Anwar Ali, Fawad Alam, Haris Sohail, Imran Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Rizwan, Shaan Masood, Umar Akmal
Category D: Babar Azam, Sami Aslam, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Amin, Zulfiqar Babar, Imad Wasim